published Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Williamson: Our city: Why my company is based here

Frank Williamson

Three recent news stories -- an article in Forbes about Chattanooga's attractiveness as a vacation destination, a CNBC story about Chattanooga's renaissance and the announcement of a new Chattanooga-based angel fund for women-owned businesses -- reminded me why our company is based in Chattanooga.

Thanks to technology, geography is largely irrelevant in our information-based economy. For example, our Chattanooga-based middle market investment banking firm, FourBridges Capital, has real-time access to the same resources -- money, data, deals, etc. -- as a firm based in New York or Chicago.

This reality is fundamentally changing America's business landscape, because quality of life is becoming the most important consideration in deciding where businesses are located. And that's why FourBridges is based in Chattanooga. It's simply a great place to be. In fact, according to the Forbes article, it's "perfect."

The professionals at FourBridges have C-level executive experience. We've "been there, done that" when it comes to working in large cities like New York and Chicago. And we've found that the possible advantage of living within walking distance of Wall Street comes with other costs.

When you live in a vital, progressive city like Chattanooga, you're not giving up anything. As the Forbes article points out, our city is blessed with many fine restaurants, excellent museums, public art and vibrant neighborhoods -- as well as outstanding outdoor recreational activities. There may be more of these things in a bigger city, but you're also vying with 40 to 100 times more people for a reservation at a popular restaurant, not to mention the hassle and time it takes to get there.

And as the announcement of the angel fund for women-owned businesses proved, Chattanooga is not only a great place to live and raise a family, it's also a great place to do business. I have no doubt that the seven women (including my wife) behind The JumpFund will reach their goal of raising $2 million by this spring -- and that this innovative program will succeed in addressing the under-representation of women in the entrepreneurial community, which is an issue nationwide, not just in Chattanooga.

The fact that Chattanooga businesswomen are among the first in the nation to address this issue makes clear that innovative business minds are not limited to large cities. I would even argue that in a close-knit, highly-energized community like CNBC noticed in Chattanooga, they are more likely to take root and flourish.

So, can you run a national investment banking firm from a city like Chattanooga? The real question is, why would you do it from anywhere else?

Frank Williamson is managing parner of FourBridges Capital, an investment banking firm based in Chattanooga that guides business owners in planning and executing important transactions like selling a company, buying a company or accessing capital for growth. Williamson has had a 20-year career managing mergers, acquisitions and financing as an investment banker and corporate executive. He holds a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School and a bachelor's degree from Williams College.

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